Dear Reader: Terrible state of Harrogate rail service + sex and the film festival

Another day. another crush - Commuters boarding a train in Harrogate.
Another day. another crush - Commuters boarding a train in Harrogate.

A regular column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

I can’t be the only person who remember the days of British Rail.

Back in the early 1980s I got accustomed to spending a miserable hour or two on a cold platform or dark, deserted concourse waiting for a train which rarely arrived on time.

Of course, some things have changed since the good old bad old days of the pre-Thatcher era.

The rerouting of our trains out of the public sector and into the private has certainly made part of the experience more pleasant.

Most railways stations are bright and breezy places these days, packed with cafes and shops like mini versions of a shopping mall.

Waiting may no longer be as depressing but that still leaves the problem of the trains themselves, particularly on the York-Harrogate-Leeds line.

There’s precious little glamour in trundling along on a Saturday afternoon on the 12.45 from Harrogate to Leeds in an overcrowded, shabby little carriage - or any other time of the day, for that matter.

At least the signage is good.

On the way to Leeds, the train stopped briefly at Horsforth station, as it usually does.

As people pushed in, looking for spaces that didn't exist, I noticed an impressive, futuristic, LED digital display on the platform announcing train arrivals and departures.

If only the days of British Rail had had those.

I’ve experienced it regularly at Edinburgh International Film Festival and it happened again last week in the build-up to a new event in Harrogate.

I’d been invited to help pick the winners in a short film competition which will be part of the exciting-sounding Harrogate Film Festival which will shortly take place at Everyman cinema and various other locations.

More than 700 short films had been submitted from around the world, an impressive figure.

I’m happy to watch films all day long but I’ve learnt over the years that, once you’ve seen five or six on the trot, your critical faculties start to fray, all the movies seeming to merge into one, no matter which country they’re from.

Luckily, I had a good reason to take a break from the judging session taking place in a swish-looking room in Raworths solicitors, one of Harrogate Film Festival’s main sponsors.

I had an assignment to interview a sex therapist. For the paper.

By the time I rejoined my fellow judges including festival boss Adam Chandler and two movie experts from Harrogate Film Society, we’d reached the comedy category.

There were films from all over the world and all of them seemed to be a story of boy meets girl then lets girl down – or girl meets boy then lets boy down. Or girl meets girl then. . .

Except for the British film. In this clever little comedy filmed in Leeds, the man wasn’t creeping back into his house after being unfaithful to his wife with another woman - or man.

His passion was something altogether different. What he was doing behind her back was working extra hours.